TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Nikki Rodriguez as the 38th Lightning Community Hero of the 2015-16 season during the first period of tonight's game versus the Florida Panthers. Rodriguez, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to LiFT University and the Disability Achievement Center.
Tonight's community hero has benefitted the lives of young adults with developmental disabilities. As a social worker, Rodriguez experienced how young adults with developmental disabilities experience similar isolation that she did when she was battling cancer. The cancer survivor's efforts have resulted in the inception of LiFT University, a full transition program for young adults with disabilities in order for them to become a viable asset to society.
Additionally, she also started the Disability Achievement Center, a social skills group that provides children with one-on-one education in and outside public schools. Moving forward, Rodriguez will continue to reiterate and accomplish LiFT's four pillars to success: academics, career readiness, strengthened social skills and independent living skills.
Rodriguez becomes the 217th Lightning Community Hero since Jeff and Penny Vinik introduced the program in 2011-12 with a $10 million, five-season commitment to the Tampa Bay community. Through this evening's game, in total, the Lightning Foundation has granted $11 million to more than 300 different non-profits in the Greater Tampa Bay area.